Friday, August 7, 2015

Getting Off the Stage Gracefully

Eventually, after months of pounding out sporadic, confusing, and often contradictory chunks of writing, my mass of words has begun to coalesce into what looks like a  novel - sort of.  I've got the characters fairly well defined, the scenes have become consistent from one chapter to the next, and everyone's names have finally settled into their final forms (and spelling.) After arranging the various chunks into an order of presentation and plastering over the plot holes it appears that I have managed to compose a more or less complete story.

Or have I?

In the final part of this tale the protagonists, having achieved their goals, are standing around, shuffling their fictional feet, and making small talk and wondering what they are supposed to do now that they've strutted and fretted their hours upon the stage.  Do they simply shrug and exeunt stage right?  Do they perform a dance, recite the major events to remind the readers what a great time they had?  What to do? I don't have any horses on which they could ride into the sunset. What to do?

The novel can't just end abruptly and I refuse to use an afterword chapter to talk about what later happens to my characters since I'd feel as if I was letting the reader invade their (fictional) privacy. Characters deserve to live their own lives, you know.

I can't be the only writer with this problem of how to wrap things up gracefully, at once rewarding the reader with something they can savor and, at the same time, telling them that this bit of fiction is over, thank you, and please don't let the door hit your ass on the way out.  I'm starting to suspect many of those who write serials do so because they can't figure out how to prevent an awkward end that lets the characters get on with their (fictional) lives off stage and in private.

Plot resolution was easy, but crafting a proper ending is proving to be hard work.


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